Rubio’s approach to education sounds familiar in Georgia

Marco Rubio leaves the stage after his speech in Athens on Friday. (AJC Photo / Hyosub Shin)

Marco Rubio leaves the stage after an appearance in Athens in May. (AJC Photo / Hyosub Shin)

Marco Rubio came to Atlanta Monday with a different spin on education, as presidential candidates go. He found a state where the debate is well underway.

While most folks agree something’s awry with American schools, the fault line separates those who believe we need to approach education very differently from those who think the primary answer is to put more money into the existing model.

Put Rubio in the former camp. While Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders simply promise ever more generous subsidies, he is pitching a two-prong effort to restructure the system for students.

Prong one: Don’t wait until students are out of high school before letting them get the vocational training they need to enter the work force.

“If I am blessed with the opportunity to be president, I will celebrate vocational training,” Rubio told a standing-room-only crowd of about 200 at a Buckhead hotel. “I will be the vocational education president, and we will open up federal financial aid and Pell grants so students don’t have to wait until they’re 19 to go to a trade school, they can start going at 16 and 17 so they can graduate ready to work.”

Prong two: Broaden the options for those who need higher education the most.

“Take for example a single mother, and she makes $14 an hour as a receptionist at a law firm,” Rubio said. “The only way she’s ever going to get a raise is if she can go back to school and become a paralegal, or a dental hygienist, or any other paraprofessional. But she can’t go back to school, because all the existing schools would require her to quit her job, (and) find someone to watch her kids, while she sits in a classroom for two to three years to get a degree.

“But what if there was an alternative system available? One that competes with the traditional four-year colleges. An alternative system that says, we’re going to give you credit for what you’ve already learned … through work experience, and life experience, and military experience. And whatever you’re missing, we’re going to allow you to acquire those credits from a variety of sources.”

Those sources could be the growing number of quality — and free — online courses. “The point,” he said, “is to allow the flexibility and choices and options, so you can package learning, (to have) a system that says, we’re going to award degrees based on what you learned, not on how many hours you sat in a classroom.”

The debate in Georgia, playing out in Gov. Nathan Deal’s Education Reform Commission, is more focused on k-12 schooling.

But Rubio’s emphasis on flexibility and choices also applies to the debate here. Like that law-firm receptionist, there are plenty of younger students whose needs aren’t served well by traditional public schools. Maybe, as Rubio suggested, they need a mix of traditional and online courses. Maybe they need the ability to use the public money allotted to them at the school of their choice. Maybe they need to move on to the next challenge as soon as they’re ready.

That doesn’t mean traditional public schools will disappear, any more than traditional, four-year colleges will. It just means they shouldn’t be the only educational path for those with limited means.

Reader Comments 0

33 comments
LilBarryBailout
LilBarryBailout

"While most folks agree something’s awry with American schools..."

-----------

80% of what's wrong with American schools has nothing to do with schools.  It has to do with American children.  Too many of them have been deprived of a proper upbringing in a normal family.  Because of that, they don't arrive ready to learn, they don't know how to behave, and they disdain achievement.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@AvgGeorgian I missed the part where the paralegal training allows you credit for what you already know. Also, there are only two technical college programs currently that allow a student to graduate concurrently with a high school diploma. Or at least that's what was presented yesterday at the Education Reform Commission's meeting in the segment about Move on When Ready.

Dusty2
Dusty2

I'm not interested in Rubio.  Jeb Bush will be president and he will have good practical ideas about schools.  I

'd rather hear from him, the smart one, than all these people with great ideas that few find interesting. 


I'd rather hear about the big issues that face us and school isn't one of them. With concerned parents, students will learn no matter the schools.  You know the story.  Abe Lincoln did his homework on a shovel with the help of his step mother and he went on from there.

MarkVV
MarkVV

@Dusty2  Your faith in Jeb Bush is touching, in face of the polls. Is it a faith in him overcoming the distrust of the voters, or in the voters coming to their senses regarding some of the other candidates?

332-206
332-206

"...and schools isn't one of them."

We'd already gathered that, Dusty...

Dusty2
Dusty2

@MarkVV @Dusty2 


It is not faith in Jeb Bush that makes me support him. It is good sense.  He is experienced, intelligent, unbiased,  honest and  comes from an out standing family.  There are no theatrics in his behavior or actions.   He is " top of the line"! 


(Polls don't think for me.)

M H Smith
M H Smith

@Dusty2 

Jeb's big issue answer is to grow the economy at a rate of 4%. 

Others have reasons to doubt Jeb can do it as he claims and so do I:

.

.

>>>Fact Check: Could Jeb Bush Really Grow GDP At 4 Percent? It's Hard To See How

http://www.npr.org/sections/itsallpolitics/2015/06/18/415212178/fact-check-could-jeb-bush-really-grow-gdp-at-4-percent-its-hard-to-see-how

.

.

>>>Fact Check: Jeb Bush's economic growth goal unrealistic

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/fact-check-bushs-economic-growth-goal-unrealistic/ 



>>>Jeb Bush’s Check-My-Record Brag on Growth Doesn’t Add Up

 http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2015-07-28/jeb-bush-s-check-my-record-brag-on-florida-growth-doesn-t-add-up

 

straker
straker

MarkVV - "sounds interesting at first glance and on the surface"


Most of the current Republican proposals fit that description.


They are counting on their gullible supporters not to dig any deeper.

LilBarryBailout
LilBarryBailout

@straker

How is that one and only Democrat proposal working (i.e. ever-increasing spending)?

If it worked, we wouldn't need to have this conversation.

Jefferson1776
Jefferson1776

If you are not in education,  you oversimplify the problems and solutions.

stogiefogey
stogiefogey

I like both ideas a lot, especially the one about vocational training. At the moment there are too many high school (and college) grads whose skill set only qualifies them for employment as a Starbucks barista. 

Sen. Rubio needs to sick with this theme; sensible ideas like these will appeal to voters across party lines.

M H Smith
M H Smith

October the first the ban on the internet access tax will be gone unless Congress renews it and it is another time for the GOP to shut-down the government by refusing to fund. 

Shutting down the government is not acceptable. Not funding the assistance necessary for nationwide healthcare to cover all U.S. citizens from head to toe is not acceptable. Running a $18 trillion debt is not only unacceptable it is unsustainable.


If Congress does not renew the ban on the Internet access tax every state in the union will tax access to the Internet separately and the funds from this huge revenue source will be "P _ ssd down all the usual corrupt government rat holes without doing anything with a penny of that money to address two major problems that could likely be funded and solved. 


If you have good health you have everything, when the country has good fiscal health prosperity extends to all. 


But hey go back to pointing fingers accusing and excusing as we do and eventually things will be so out of control there will be no way out of the wreckage.  

MarkVV
MarkVV

“An alternative system that says, we’re going to give you credit for what you’ve already learned … through work experience, and life experience, and military experience.”

Sound interesting at first glance and on the surface, until you realize the wild improbability of the suggestion. What kind of enormous educational bureaucracy would be needed to (a) set up fair criteria for giving credit for  all those varieties and degrees of “work experience, and life experience, and military experience;” (b) to evaluate and process thousands of people with immensely varied personal experiences to award them the credits? It might be possible to give credit for a few specific experiences and accomplishments, but hardly enough to make it a significant part of total educational credit. Acquiring credit from a variety of specific educational sources, on the other hand, is a worthwhile idea.

PinkoNeoConLibertarian
PinkoNeoConLibertarian

I like the Prong 2. I know a number of people in the software engineering field that started at a time when a college degree wasn't available or feasible. Some received their initial training in the military. Now, a couple of decades later, if they lose their jobs they have no chance of getting a new one in the same field as they don't have a degree. What they do have, and doesn't count in today's world, is 20 years of real life experience that you can't get in any college or university.


I'm sure that there are many other fields that are the same.


Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@PinkoNeoConLibertarian Many schools today have a competency based approach. Its not about sitting in a classroom. If you can "test out" and prove you are competent in a particular skill you move along and eventually graduate. 


We are already doing this somewhat

M H Smith
M H Smith

I'll see your point and raise you an issue Sen. Rubio: What about the funding and while we're at it I'll just go ahead and call it, where is your answer to healthcare and the funding thereof?

The market driven solutions the GOP keeps worshiping really hasn't made it more accessible or affordable.

I mean just the other day I was talking about big pharma raising the cost of cancer drugs unjustifiably and some hedge fund manager raised the cost of a $18 drug by 1,400% when he bought the company that made this drug for years sold for $18?    



FIGMO2
FIGMO2

This is exactly the kind of innovative thinking we desperately need in Washington.

The GOP's "Young Guns" vs the DNC's tried and failed old gas bags. 

JFMcNamara
JFMcNamara

I like what Rubio said, and I wouldn't mind trying it.  I would even go so far as to say that once you finish your vocational training, you can leave school at 16.  We need more of good ideas like this and less race/Islam baiting.


The stuff going on in Georgia is different though.  I know you have the best intentions, but not everyone in your movement does.  What Georgia is doing is going to go bad for the poor people.  It will be just like HOPE.  It will start off trying to help the poor and morph into free private schools for the rich with no taxes.  Been there, done that. 


I repeat.  I don't think you think that way, but there certainly are people who are trying to achieve that goal.

M H Smith
M H Smith

@JFMcNamara 

Yeah, now come to find out those old rich white people are benefiting more than the poor black folks are from Obamacare!

Oh, and worse, I was told just the other day by a financial director of a major local Hospital that Obamacare is better than Medicare. 

I'm so angry and envious of those rich white people taking all the good stuff and jobs!


Got a solution to offer beside "hope and change" it didn't seem to work either, in spite of best wishes and good intentions?


JFMcNamara
JFMcNamara

@M H Smith @JFMcNamara  , I'm not sure why you felt the need to go racial on this one. The HOPE changes hurt just as many, if not more rural Whites.  I guess you are hard wired that way.


Rich people aren't taking all the good stuff and jobs.  They have the good stuff and provide the jobs.  The issue is that the more concentrated the wealth is with the rich, the harder it is for social mobility.  Unless you are for an aristocracy, then you want the wealth redistributed to the best and brightest, not just those who were born rich.  Isn't that one of America's principles?


Obamacare isn't perfect, but it s better than what we had before.  The problem is that Republicans sat out the legislative process in the beginning and are now not helping make changes that could make Obamacare better.  People want to change it, but they are not being allowed because they can't get the Congressional votes.

M H Smith
M H Smith

@JFMcNamara @M H Smith 

Maybe because YOU MADE IT RACIAL from the the get go when you brought it on with YOUR need to insert "race" into it along with wealth envy .... 

"We need more of good ideas like this and less race/Islam baiting."

Nah,  You don't want anything better when you dump the same load of liberal condemnations. So get real, I attacked the leftist attitude your brought to the table. That's why nothing is happening for  the good and the country so polarized.

Jimmyliscious
Jimmyliscious

Great idea from Rubio. Maybe he feels guilty for supporting expanding the H1B1 visa program exponentially importing hundreds of thousands of skilled foreign workers, many in IT, that to soothe his conscience he will make vocational training free.

332-206
332-206

Introducing such a Bill would generate a lot of interest and input...

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

"the growing number of quality — and free — online courses."

Republicans say "But how will you pay for it!? Free stuff!?  Giveaways!!??  Those Moochers!!!" 


But hey, I think it's a good plan, but there are already a lot of online courses, for a fee. There is already scrutiny of these for-profit enterprises who take a lot of money but do not produce as much results as traditional learning. 

I think it's more a matter of what the future holds. Online courses are well suited for many people, but the quality of those courses has to be increased so that when someone graduates an online college/degree, they do not get looks of "did you really study?" from those who attended traditional schools. In the future, it should be the same learning and resulting skills. 

M H Smith
M H Smith

@LogicalDude 

The quality is there. 


Accreditation
All Technical College System of Georgia colleges are accredited. Accreditation earned by an institution of higher learning is important for several reasons, including:

  • recognition for meeting significant academic standards;
  • requirement for its students to receive federal financial aid, as outlined in Title IV of the Higher Education Act;
  • ease of transferring credits to other accredited institutions.

Accreditation is earned through a process overseen by a regional or national accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.All TCSG colleges are accredited to offer associate degrees, certificates and diplomas. Overseeing accreditation are:

  • the Council on Occupational Education (COE), a national accreditation body recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, and/or
  • the Commission on Colleges (COC) of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), a regional accrediting body recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. COC accredits all activities of degree granting colleges.

 https://tcsg.edu/colleges.php

bu2
bu2

@LogicalDude

I don't see what is different from what he proposes from what University of Phoenix, Liberty University, Central Michigan, etc. already do.



Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

Headley: Not sure what happened to your comment. I was reading it, about to approve it, when it just disappeared. (We have been having some technical issues with commenting the past day or so.)